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Curating Your Perfect Reception Menu

by | Feb 22, 2023 | Details & Design, Lifestyle

The ultimate guide for building a menu of delicious bites for you and your wedding guests.


The most exciting thing about getting married—aside from making a lifelong commitment to loving and cherishing your soulmate forever—is of course the food!

After a long day of prepping, performing, and taking monumental strides on your wedding day, what better way to celebrate than with a reception party with your dearest loved ones, indulging in delight and delicious bites? Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting the ultimate reception menu:

Photo by Kay Salera

Always start with the budget


We know full and well that weddings can get expensive. Before beginning to build your reception menu, it’s important to know your allotted budget

In the United States, wedding catering totals at $4,000 on average. This number, however, is of course dependent on factors like your reception headcount and whether you intend to serve plated meals or a buffet.

It’s often argued that the buffets are the less costly route to take when catering your wedding. While there may be more food present, the labor of plating and serving is cut down, which can end up saving you a lot. Depending on how much you are looking to spend on your reception menu and how many mouths you have to feed, you may want to consider hosting a buffet.

Photo by Julia Kathleen

Course counts


For joining you on your most important day, guests should leave the reception feeling full and satisfied. A plated meal will typically span across two-and-a-half hours and come with three to four courses:

  • Hors d’oeuvres
  • Appetizer
  • Main dish
  • Dessert

If you are looking to cater buffet style, we recommend two starches, two proteins, and three sides. The dessert bar will often deserve a station of its own, as servers will not be active in separating dining from dessert.


Set the tone


Any culinary expert or even everyday foodie will tell you the same thing: food is art. On this day of carefully curated aesthetics, it’s important to be sure that your reception menu contributes to your overall wedding experience rather than detracts from it.

Depending on the theme of your wedding, your menu options can change drastically. While a formal affair may call for the luxury dining experience of plated lobsters and veil, a rustic barn wedding might call for smoked barbecue on sweet bread buns. Chat with your caterer about the tone you’re setting to build the ultimate menu for your wedding reception.

Photo by Palms & Lace

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